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Hi all - new poster here & so glad to find this wonderful group. We are long time gsd owners and have had no major issues. However, our newest girl, Tessie is 2yrs. old and was coming along quite nicely with her training/socialization until last week. We had a visit from our daughter and 2yo granddaughter. Out of an abundance of caution, we had Tessie on a leash from the get go. Once we made sure everyone was nice and calm, we all sat in the living room, with Tessie and our older gsd both in a down position. Granddaughter proceeded to bring toys back and forth while we talked and played with Scrabble letters. We noticed Tessie looking at her with intensity and before I could react, she lunged and scared the heck out of all of us. She is very strong, and at that point was "in the zone" and beyond listening to any commands whatsoever. We are not sure whether she was trying to play or to take a nip out of the poor kid. This was a real wake up call, and now we need to take serious action - more training? - so that this never happens again. Any advice would be very welcome. Tessie does tend to get more excited around women/kids with high pitched voices.
Thanks so much!
 

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Glad the baby wasn't injured.

What was her demeanor? Was she snapping or making any noise?

Perhaps watching the back and forth brought out her prey drive?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks so much for your input. Her demeanor was intense & focused, no noise at all, no whining, growling or barking, but she definintely wanted to approach/investigate. We've had Tessie since appx. 12 weeks of age. She really has not had much exposure to young children except when we go to Petsmart. She's met several kids there. Sat nicely and calmly and never made a move in that situation. You are right zyp, the back & forth might have been a factor.
Where to go from here?
My husband wants me to mention that when Tessie first came to us (from a reputable breeder) she was a "basket case" and would not even make eye contact for the first year. It took hard work daily to begin even to have her listen to the most basic commands. However, she did complete basic training and was coming along very nicely in every other way. Eye contact, attention to commands, etc. was great until this happened.
 

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First I'd continue going to dog classes with having the distractions thrown in by the instructor in conjuntion with your dog still listening to you. I've found that the weekly classes 'force' me to practice alot during the week. And since I have to do it with real distractions the going out and about town, playgrounds, whatever for the training continue the socialization and confidence of my dog. And me FOR my dog.

Without having been there when the incident occured it's hard to really know. But from what you described it may not have been aggression, more excitement and greeting.

And if that's what it was, your dog was just 'rude' not aggressive. So your role is to teach your dog to meet children politely. Once again, this is where your obedience classes will continue to help. So you will be appropriately calm, you'll KNOW your dog will behave/listen cause of all the training in and out of class, and things will go well.
 

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Tessie's Mom,

Small children run about squealing with their arms flailing and do all kinds of interesting things. This behavior triggers prey and herding instinct in our GSD's. If you want your dog to grow to be a dog that's great with kids you need to socialize the heck out of her with children. She needs to understand that children are a positive source of fun and joy provided she is CALM. This is also a two way street, the children need to be taught how to act around a dog. The 2 year old is a little young for this, not young to socialize the dog with but only in 100% controlled interaction (i.e. on leash). Older children, about 4 years old and older, can be taught how to act if the dog gets to pushy (stand still - don't move or squeal and call you) and to be CALM. Use this opportunity to work with the child and dog in a CALM and controlled setting. Exercise the crap out of the dog (And I'm not just talking about a walk either - 20 minutes of long fetch to get the tongue wagging is best), feed her, and then get to work with the two year old. Keep puppy on leash, but leave it as loose as you can (as long as she is not trying to pounce on the child) and show the 2 year old how to nicely pet the puppy and show the puppy how to nicely interact. Until a dog/pup proves to me that they can ignore a child that runs past them and totally control themselves with a calm clear head I will not allow any interaction with children unless on lead and supervised only by myself. Reward calm submissive behavior with treats and CALM praise. If puppy will not settle down or shows any signs of taking a dominant stance over the children all interaction is done. I start this process as early as possible with as many children as I can find. Teaching this to a 15 pound puppy is much easier than a 70 pound dog since they are easier to control without much exertion. Freedom is earned. You are a little behind the eight ball since she has not been around many kids so far, but that does not mean she will always be bad around them.
 

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A 2 year old child has different body movements than an old child or adult. They toddle and sway a lot, to an animal that has prey drive like the GSD, the child might look like a wounded little human. Also at that size they are more on the eye level of he dog.

Wether your 2 year old dog had problems from puppy on do to lack of socialization and handling or genetic weak nerves only makes the dog more unpredictable. Weak nerved dogs are normally over reactive and dogs with lack of handling and imprinting can also be over-reactive.

I don't have children and my dogs aren't around children that much. OUt of the four dogs there is one that I trust with kids and that is only if I am there to supervise, it happens to be my male the biggest dog in the house.

I agree with John, freedom is earned. Since your dogs are like mine and not exposed to children very often, it makes training a bit more difficult.

Val
 

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I had this problem with mine and my four year old nephew. With tons of exposure, such as long walks together we have managed to break the lunging. The do get along very well now and he no longer looks at my nephew like he wants to eat him.

BUT I never ever leave them together alone, and I watch them very closely when they are together. If Cyrus is getting too excited I stop the interaction right way, with something fun for him so he does not feel like he is being punished.

Good Luck!
 

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Hi. I am not an experienced GSD owner and have a shy dog, so our experience may not be helpful-but you are welcome to it. From the time my stepdaughter began to visit with her infant son, we began actively desensitizing Wolf to Aron. We were lucky in that Wolf was very respectful of the baby in his carrier and got amply rewarded for calm downs at a distance.

Aron is now 19 months old, running-not toddling. It is a bit more complicated because my stepdaughter has two-child tolerant Labs and Aron has the habit of reach first and ask questions later. OK, our goal is that every interaction between boy and dog will be positive. They are both supervised around each other. We do a lot of simple obedience with Wolf with Aron watching and Aron wants to join in. Sure enough Wolf will sit for Aron. Last week, with Aron in the arms of some doting adult, he offered the dog kibble held in his little fat fingers. Wolf licked the kibble from his hand. Later Aron threw a ball for Wolf-about 18 inches. Also, after a few minutes of calm play, Wolf retires to another quiet room.

What we're trying to do is direct Aron to safe interactions with Wolf. Aron will visit for Wolf's whole life (knock wood), so they have to have a good relationship.

Mary Jane
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank each one of you for your great replies and insights. We are feeling much better about the whole thing now - it was a good wake up call reminding us that we have much more work to do to keep Tessie in a calm submissive frame of mind in any situation, especially with kids. We will keep the classes going, and yes, I agree it was more excitement than aggression. We are planning more outings to have more opportunities to socialize. The point about exercise is well taken, as it had been raining for a few days before this happened and Tessie was no doubt more wound up than usual due to lack of her regular runs. We will definitely follow the advice about fostering positive interaction. Sadly, we will have to find other child size helpers. Our daughter was understandably upset, and the baby did cry because she was startled, but said she will never bring her over again. Hopefully, she will give Tessie another chance in the future, with proper supervision, of course. Thanks again for everyone's input - it is very much appreciated.
 

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I am so sorry that your granddaughter will not be visiting again soon. That is very unfortunate. Maybe printing this thread out, and discussing the classes and socialization you are doing will change her mind. You are 100% on the right track. Rereading your original post it really sounds as if she was locked in on her as prey. This does not mean she wanted to eat her, but the movements a young child makes often brings out the instinct in our dogs and takes some work to control. This behavior is not what we need to worry about most. Fear is the toughest problem to overcome in a dog. A dog that barks/growls at a child with tail tucked is a disaster waiting to happen. Allowing a dog to dominate a child during everyday interaction is a ticking time bomb as well and a close second to fear aggression. Good luck with her, and I hope you stick around the board. There is some great information here.
 

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My dog 14 months is in the same way with small kids. Does anyone have an opinion on muzzling while introducing her to small ones? I don't want to subject the children to her if she is a danger, but want Onyx to get socialized with them, so she can see they are of no danger to her.
 

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Onyx 7 mos~In June we were ouside of our church, cleaning vans after a mission trip, I thought it would be good to take Onyx to socialize a bit, just so she could be around people, no-one really paid much attention to her as we stayed away from them. A boy about 9 approached Onyx from behind, she hackles up, growling, lunging and she had to be pulled away from him as he started to run away scared.
August~Pet Co .with Onyx and Kacie. we were getting a baby budgie and I had both dogs sitting while we waited for sales person. A boy came about 5 ft. from us and Onyx growled, hackles up and lunges at him, he did nothing to her at all.
One year~She was in a down stay at testing at the last night of training. A little 4 yr old was twirling around about 10 ft. from her and she growled & lunged at her-I corrected immediately with "No Onyx", she was on a prong collar. Onyx continued to watch little girl for the rest of the lesson....A week later we had a Christmas party w/ family. 4 yr. neice was running past w/ a bag in her hand(plastic grocery) Onyx chased her and tried to get her. I don't blame Onyx on that one, as she was probably trying to herd her. But now I am not going to put her in situations where she will be near small kids, would a muzzle be the best way to get her over her fear aggression w/ small kids?
BTW I have a 15 and 12 yr. old, and our house does have that age level over a lot, it is the small ones that get her going...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you onyx'girl, for your input, and I'm so sorry you are having this problem. However, if you will read my original post, you will see that the reactions of the two dogs around kids were not the same. In Tessie's case, there was no growling, lunging, chasing or raised hackles. I'm sorry to say that if that were the case, we would be much more alarmed. Since this has happened more than once with several children, in my humble opinion, this is a disaster waiting to happen and I would not have onyx around children under any circumstances unless she is leashed and under your complete control. I think the posters here have offered many good suggestions for both of us - we have a lot of work to do to ensure everyone's safety and well being.
 

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Tessies mom, thanks for the reply. I hope you can work Tessie thru this. I am keeping onyx in check whenever she is around little ones. Unfortunately, she isn't around them enough to get properly socialized to them!
 

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These two (Tessie and Onyx) appear to be two perfect examples of completely different issues. Tessie sounds like 100% prey reaction. Onyx unfortunately sounds like fear aggression. That does not mean she cannot get over it, it just is a little more dangerous in my opinion. I would absolutely recommend a muzzle in that instance for multiple reasons. Obviously for the safety of the child, but in addition because you will probably be able to be less tense knowing she cannot really bite. If she is not used to the muzzle, make sure you get her used to it in other situations first so she does not just associate the muzzle with the little kids. Be careful with the prong in these situations as well, as at times it can increase an aggressive response in some dogs.
 

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Onyx girl and Tessie's mom -- thanks for bringing this up, and thanks everyone for the replies. I've never had to deal with this before and it's a surprisingly emotional and upsetting topic.

What's the best way to socialize an adult dog to children, and when do you know you can rely on their response? I'll be joining a new dog club and I hope they'll have an experienced and wonderful someone to help, but I'd appreciate advice. Ideally they'll have kids I can work Annie with, but then how do I do that safely?

Also, when a dog behaves unbecomingly towards a child, out of fear, aggression, or prey drive, what sort of correction should you do?

My dog hasn't lunged at any kids, but sometimes (not often, maybe 3 times total, and in a way I can't predict) she seems to be quite alarmed by them and has done the hyper-alert ear-pricking thing with a short, sharp warning bark -- but then she's gotten behind me and hasn't continued the behaviour.

One time, she hackled slightly, gave a short growl, and barked sharply with no particular provocation I could see, except that it was 2 boys about 8 years old who approached her very directly and suddenly with a lot of eye contact. That time she did not move away from them ( I was standing right there and moved us away immediately). She was about 18 months old then.

There have been other times when kids have run up out of the blue and started petting her and she's been utterly calm and accepting, and sometimes even joyously and carefully playful.

In general she's more tense and reactive than my previous dogs. I've taken her as much as possible to social situations, and on the whole she's calm and likes attention.
 

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Today I went and got a soft mesh muzzle for Onyx. I will slowly get her use to wearing it as it is also needed at the vet. I put it on her for a bit and let her and Kacie outside with me. Usually she herds, bites Kacie's legs but it was really funny to watch her trying to still do it! Then Kacie figured out she couldn't and started really getting rough while they played. I only left it on for about 3-4 min. I will gradually have her spend more time with it -always supervised.
I know Onyx is fear aggressive(she has been since a pup & working on it), and the prong is a bite back when corrected, so I am trying to figure out which collar will work best for us. I have the gentle leader, but she was very anxious w/it. Because she is 90# she is hard to control with a flat collar. I may give the GL another try. And find a brave little kid to toss her some yummy treats... Still would love more opinions!!
 

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This is my favorite training harness: http://www.softouchconcepts.com/products/sense_sation_harness.html

I've used it for two dogs that were fear aggressive. I know that many people say that the gentle leader calms dogs but I find that even when introduced properly some dogs don't do well on it. Basu figured out how to set his head when wearing it and pulled really hard anyway. I was nervous he was going to damage his neck. He pulled so hard that I thought I was going to need shoulder surgery. I originally used a prong with him and it didn't make a difference. This harness was the only thing that really worked for him. My friend uses one for her very big and very strong reactive gsd and I am using one for Rafi right now.

The Sense-ation harness gives you a lot more control of the dog and won't cause injuries. Do not scrimp and get the lower priced one. It will chafe your dog!
 
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